Monday, May 23, 2011

Gardeccia reactions and results

He doesn't seem to believe it himself either, does he? After yesterday's historic day on the Zoncolan - a day I termed 'one of the greatest days in the team's history' (in the heat of the moment admittedly, but true all the same) - none would have expected this. I had secretely hoped Nieve would slip into today's break and do a repeat of his Vuelta win last year. The stage's route, and his form obviously, was perfect. But I didn't dear to say it. It would have been too good to be true. And it so nearly is. It seems both riders and fans are finding it hard to grasp that Euskaltel have secured back-to-back stage-wins on the Giro's most prestigious stages. Talking to the media after the podium ceremony, the sylf-like Navarran expressed similar views. "To win the queen-stage of the Giro is a dream I'd never thought would come true. I couldn't imagine achieving this when I turned pro (at the relatively late age of 23)", he said modestly as ever. Alberto Contador called today's marathon stage "my hardest day on a bike ever", and Nieve echoed his sentiments. "This is for sure the hardest day I've experienced in my career", he stated matter-of-factly after spending close to seven and a half hours in the saddle. "From the moment Garzelli went solo on the Giau it was mano a mano. I feel like I've done 100 kilometres on my own (which isn't far from the truth by the way). With all the climbs and the wind, the stage lasted for what seemed like an eternity. The final kilometre never ended. I couldn't even find the strength to raise my arms in jubilation." Despite now occupying a remarkable fifth overall, and with team-leader Antón down in 11th, Nieve played down the option of going for a high overall placing for himself. "There's no way I'm the captain of the team. Igor will pass me on GC after the mountain time trial on Tuesday. I remain at his service. If I finish inside the top 10 I'll be pleased. If not, I won't be too disappointed."

Speaking of team-leader Antón, I've never once seen him collapse just like that. He looked good, excellent in fact, on the first three climbs. And when he drifted towards the back-end of the lead group at the base of the penultimate, I thought he was just doing what he normally does: hanging out at the back, keeping a low profile and recover. I sensed an attack was in the offing until he suddenly wasn't there anymore. For quite a while I was sure it was a mechanical, but as it turns out he was just on a bad day. Make that a really bad day. He finished a quite staggering - by his standards anyway - 7:59 down in 18th place, conceding time to every single GC rival. His lacklustre showing leaves him in 11th place overall at a distant 9:37 heading into the second rest-day. I'm at a loss to explain why it happened, but I wouldn't be surprised if he just bonked. Anyway, he's now a full four and a half minutes off the podium. This is an extraordinary Giro where anything can happen, make no mistake, so rule Antón out of podium contention at your peril. But, admittedly, it looks like a long-shot with the toughest mountains behind us and with that annoying last-day ITT still to come. On the flip side it might give him some leeway to chase another win in the mountains, perhaps at Sestrieres, so it's not all bad. It is all bad for Juan José Oroz, though. The dependable all-rounder crashed out of the race approximately halfway through today. Still no word on what exactly happened, but check in tomorrow to find out.

Stage results:
  • 1, Nieve
  • 18, Antón, 7:59
  • 72, Azanza, 27:35
  • 73, Aramendía, s.t.
  • 77, Isasi, 27:44
  • 113, Minguez, 38:32
  • 114, Cazaux, s.t.
  • 124, Sesma, 38:46
  • 5, Nieve, 7:03
  • 11, Antón, 9:37
  • 62, Isasi, 1:24:14
  • 73, Azanza, 1:36:13
  • 127, Aramendía, 2:22:29
  • 150, Cazaux, 2:40:12
  • 151, Sesma, 2:43:47
  • 159, Minguez, 2:59:44


bike master said...

chapeau, Euskatel. beautiful.

mceuskadi said...

First my Respekt to Mikel Nieve. What a ride, despite looking tired at the last 4km he gained overall a 1:40 to Garzelli. And man Garzelli is a strong climber.

I belief Igor Anton forgot to eat enough before the last two climbs. At the beginning of the penultimate climb he made parts of the work in the Contador group, then he dissapeared. Nibali had a bad day, what suffered Igor isn't explainable with just a bad day. This is the price that such thin climbers has to pay, they have to eat the energy the consume prior to the climbs. But maybe it's not bad to see, that Igor isn't one of the "supersoldiers" like Contador or Armstrong time ago, not suffering even one bad day in career.

Hopefully he will recover today and may be able to battle for a stage victory at the mountain TT.


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